Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Review of #2 Sons by Pearl Buck

Name of Book: Sons

Author: Pearl Buck

ISBN:  0786274948

Publisher: World Publishing Company

Part of a Series: House of earth series

Type of book: China, late 1800s? to 1900s, family saga, wars, warlord, merchant, desire

Year it was published: 1932 (version I have 1945)


Second in the trilogy that began with The Good Earth, Buck's classic and starkly real tale of sons rising against their honored fathers tells of the bitter struggle to the death between the old and the new in China. Revolutions sweep the vast nation, leaving destruction and death in their wake, yet also promising emancipation to China's oppressed millions who are groping for a way to survive in a modern age.


One might remember the eldest son, the one that's lusty, restless and a real lord's son, the one that spends money without thought and concocted the idea of addicting a cousin's parents to opium. In this book he remains the same, except that he gains a lot more weight (I swear I always picture him as a 400 pound pig if not worse.) and as always he gains multitude of children from different wives. At one point he forbids his eldest son to become a soldier and often feels uncomfortable that the eldest becomes a dandy or a fop. The middle son is a merchant, and one probably remembers him as an antithesis of his brother. The middle one through secret ways becomes extremely wealthy and sends a nephew to become a soldier. The youngest one is barely seen and mentioned, and most of time we spend with him, trying to figure him out. The youngest one, named Wang the Tiger is described as fair and tries to shed the stereotypes of being a war lord and soldier. He is also fierce and desires his son greatly. However, when he finally gets the son, Wang Yuan, the son disappoints him greatly because he resembles Wang Lung and O-Lan the most.


Be careful what you wish for, because it may come true in an unexpected way.


This is in third person narrative from the three sons; the oldest, middle and youngest, although the youngest covers most of the book, in particular his desire for a son and a quest in trying to become great. I think one does need to read The Good Earth to understand Sons, especially in understanding the three sons of Wang Lung, and sons of his sons which also presents the book. Wang Yuan, Wang the Tiger's son, strikes me as very similar to Wang Lung and has his own book in A House Divided.

Author Information:

June 26, 1892 in Hillsboro, West Virginia, The United States

March 06, 1973


Literature ; Fiction, Biographies ; Memoirs, Children's Books

About this author

Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938 "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces" and the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1932 for The Good Earth.


The version I eventually got was from 1945 with fragile pages that I carefully had to turn because it ripped easily. This book is a real page turner, especially when the youngest son returns for a father's funeral, (the mysterious silent one, the twin to his last daughter,) I also enjoyed learning about the other two sons, the landlord and the merchant (and for some odd reason found the landlord's description and whatnot funny.) I think the reader will agree that should Wang Lung have remained alive, he would have been deeply ashamed of his sons, for one spends the money like it's nothing, another is too strict and last one desires to bring war. While we do spend time with oldest and middle sons, the most we try to figure out is the youngest one.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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